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In Excel for Mac 2011 Essential Training, author Curt Frye gives a comprehensive overview of Excel, the full-featured spreadsheet software from Microsoft. The course covers key skills such as manipulating workbook and cell data, using functions, automating actions, printing worksheets, and collaborating with others. Exercise files accompany the course.
When the Excel programming team determined how the program should behave when it's first installed, they had to cover hundreds of details; for example, how many worksheets should a new workbook contain, and what should happen when you press the Return key? Most of the program settings work fine for the vast majority of users, but you can change things if you like. In this movie, I'll show you how to display the Preferences dialog and point out some of the options you might want to change. To display the Preferences dialog box, you can either click Excel and then click Preferences, or you can press the keyboard shortcut of Command+Comma. When you do, the Preferences dialog box appears.
The General page of the Preferences dialog, which you can display by clicking the General button, lets you control things such as how many files appear in the Recently Opened File list, and so on. When you install Excel, the Recently used file list can contain up to the 10 most recent documents you've opened. I personally changed that number to 25, but I use a fairly large monitor. And a good rule of thumb to use is that you don't want the Recently used file list to scroll beyond the bottom of your monitor. In other words, you want everything to just be displayed on the screen at one time.
I personally also clear the Open Excel Workbook Gallery check box, and that way when I run Excel, I just get a blank workbook instead of being offered the possibility of creating a workbook based on a template, which I know how to do if I want to. If you're a newer user, you might want to stay with the Workbook Gallery, but as someone who's more advanced, I prefer not to deal with. It just slows me down. Those are the only items that I recommend changing, at least to start, on the General page of the Preferences dialog. So to go back, I will click Show All, and that gives me the main screen of the Preferences dialog again.
There is one item I'll show you on the View page - I'll click on View to display that - and that is the Show formulas option. If you check that box, Excel displays your formulas instead of the results of your formulas. You'll see a lot more about formulas later on in this course, so I just wanted to let you know the option was there. But for now, I will uncheck it and go back to the main page, by clicking on Show All. The controls on the Edit page of the Preferences dialog let you control how you change your workbook and its contents.
I don't typically make any changes, but if your workbook has links to external data sources, such as perhaps a database, you might not want to have the program ask to update external links. To get rid of that option, or to turn that option off, you can clear the Ask to update automatic links box. If you do, Excel will update automatically, and you won't have the unfortunate occurrence of coming back to your computer, having gone to get a cup of coffee, and then have to click something and then wait for Excel to update your data.
It just makes things a lot simpler. But again, I don't typically make that change, but if you work in an environment where you do have to verify that sort of thing, then you can clear it. The other pages in the Preferences dialog, I'll refer to specific capabilities that'll cover elsewhere in the course, so don't worry about them for now. Excel comes ready to use when you install it, but you might find that changing a few options makes your life easier. If you do make a change and decide it isn't working out, you can always go back in and go back to what you had before.
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